PORT HAWKESBURY: Following appeals to the Town and County of Antigonish, the fundraising campaign for the region’s largest hospital has made a pitch to another Strait area municipal council.

Five members of St. Martha’s Regional Hospital Foundation arrived at last week’s regular monthly meeting of Port Hawkesbury Town Council for a 50-minute presentation that detailed the foundation’s new campaign “St. Martha’s and You: The Time is NOW.”

The campaign coordinators are hoping to add another $20 million to the endowment fund for major medical equipment purchases at the Antigonish hospital by 2026, and campaign chair Steve Smith made a push for Port Hawkesbury to consider regular contributions to the fund over the coming decade.

“Other communities are used to giving, but our communities aren’t because they were never asked,” Smith declared during the December 6 meeting at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Shannon Studio.

“But now we’re asking… Believe me, we need Guysborough, Inverness and Richmond County coming on board.”

Smith’s contention that St. Martha’s Regional Hospital needs to raise its voice, given the absorption of the Guysborough-Antigonish-Strait Health Authority (GASHA) into the province-wide Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) in mid-2015 was driven home by radiologist Dr. Mike Silver.

“We are administered from Sydney and Halifax, so when big items come up and decisions have to be made, is it going to go to Port Hawkesbury? Is it going to go to Antigonish? Probably not – it’s going to go to Sydney, Halifax and New Glasgow, unless we step up and have a voice,” Dr. Silver predicted.

Steve Smith, chair of the St. Martha’s Hospital Foundation, was joined by four foundation colleagues on December 6 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre’s Shannon Studio to urge Port Hawkesbury Town Council to join the foundation’s efforts to add $20 million to the hospital’s endowment fund by 2026.

In addition to approaching local municipalities for financial donations, foundation representatives urged Port Hawkesbury municipal officials to speak with individual town residents about supporting the new St. Martha’s campaign.

In doing so, Smith pointed out that he does not wish to distract attention or support from the Strait-Richmond Health Care Foundation, which recently launched its Lights For Life campaign to raise funds for dialysis chairs at the Strait-Richmond Hospital dialysis unit in Evanston.

“You know, the Strait-Richmond [Health Care Foundation] and us, we talk,” Smith pointed out.

“We’re very supportive of them, and they’re very supportive of us. We need each other – we’re not trying to take all the Strait-Richmond’s money, we’re just trying to say that we have to support all of the institutions.”

Speaking to reporters following the council meeting, Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton praised the efforts of Smith and his foundation colleagues, including the campaign’s two Strait area co-chairs, former Port Hawkesbury Deputy Mayor Bert Lewis and the executive director of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, Amanda Mombourquette.

“I feel that it is very important that the [Strait area] come together to support St. Martha’s as a regional hospital,” Chisholm-Beaton declared.

“Not to diminish the need or the value of Strait-Richmond Hospital, of course, but I feel that it’s a campaign worth supporting and we will certainly have some discussions around the council table to discuss our capacity to be able to support that campaign, and also, amongst ourselves, what we can do on an individual level to support that campaign as well.”